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Late For Work 10/2: Ozzie Newsome Strikes Again, Trade Immediately Helps

Posted Oct 2, 2013

Writing on wall for McKinnie? Serving notice to O-line. Rolando comeback? Miss Pitta more than Boldin.


Ozzie Strikes Again, Trade Immediately Helps

The Ravens won’t sit around and settle for a mediocre offensive line.

Especially not when their Super Bowl MVP franchise quarterback is getting banged around and their All-Pro running back can’t find any room to run.

And especially when they are serious about returning to the playoffs and defending their Super Bowl title.

The team thought an upgrade to the offensive line was so necessary that it did something it’s never done during its 18 years of existence: (reportedly) make a trade in the middle of the season.

And it’s a trade for a left tackle that ESPN’s Jamison Hensley is calling the “anti-McKinnie.”

Acquiring Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe, who has started 62 of 65 games since being selected 15 spots ahead of Michael Oher in the 2009 draft at No. 8, is such a huge move that analysts are already praising General Manager Ozzie Newsome for improving the team immediately and potentially for the future.

“The Wizard of Oz strikes again,” wrote NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal. “The city of Baltimore was hoping that [Newsome] could work his magic and make a trade for a wide receiver who would save the sagging Ravens offense.

“He did much better.”

Added Hensley: “[G]ive General Manager Ozzie Newsome credit, he knew the Ravens would go nowhere this season without upgrading the offensive line. This is the best move the Ravens could have made at this point. And this is the best player they could have acquired for that spot.”

Who is Eugene Monroe?

He one of the most underrated left tackles in the NFL, says Hensley. Monroe is eight years younger than the 34-year-old McKinnie he’s expected to replace, and he’s known for his “rigorous workouts and eating habits.” Meanwhile, McKinnie has struggled to keep his weight down and stay in shape.

The statistical website Pro Football Focus graded Monroe as the league’s 10th-best left tackle in 2012. Last year, he allowed only five sacks and 34 pressures. Per The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel, McKinnie was on pace to allow 52 pressures overall this season.

Monroe is a “solid” run blocker while McKinnie struggled “driving defenders off the ball and consistently failed to finish his blocks,” says Hensley.

Monroe hasn’t played up to his usual standards this season, but he’s been playing for the 0-4 Jaguars. The Ravens recently made a move for another underrated Jaguar in middle linebacker Daryl Smith, who has proven to be an outstanding replacement for future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.

“Maybe a change of scenery – and a change of quarterbacks – will get him back on track,” Vensel wrote.

Monroe is just 26 years old, he’s an upper tier left tackle in the final year of his contract, and the Ravens got him only for multiple third-day picks. That means fourth round or later, which Hensley says won’t hurt Baltimore because it is expecting compensatory picks for those rounds after losing Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed and Cary Williams in free agency.

The Jaguars have found their left tackle of the future in Luke Joeckel, and will gladly take the draft picks as they try to rebuild. The teams were ideal trade partners.

As of right now, the Ravens are not giving Monroe a new deal, but they could eventually, reported CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora.

If a deal is struck, there is potential that Monroe becomes the Ravens’ left tackle for years to come.

“[This] is a fantastic move for Baltimore because it helps them right now, and in the future,” Rosenthal wrote. “Baltimore has struggled to settle on a blindside protector for Joe Flacco for years, finally deciding that Michael Oher could only handle the right side. [McKinnie] saved the team with an epic playoff run last year, but Newsome was hesitant to bring him back this year. It turns out the Ravens went back to the well too often.”

The Ravens weren’t going to wait around and cross their fingers, hoping something would magically change along the struggling offensive line. This move shows they believe they can still defend their title, and went out and did something about it.

“Ravens need help on OLine; they go and get Eugene Monroe," tweeted NFL.com’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. “Steelers need help on OLine; they talk about using TEs/RBs as extra blockers.”

Writing On The Wall For McKinnie?

So now what will become of McKinnie, who this offseason signed a two-year deal reportedly worth $6.3 million?

 “I'd have to think he isn't with [the] team by morning,” CSN’s Brent Harris tweeted late last night.

McKinnie is aware of the trade, reported The Sun’s Aaron Wilson, and Monroe is reportedly expected in Baltimore early today.

“The writing is on the wall for incumbent left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who rode the bench last season, an exercise bike early in training camp and a party bus last week,” Vensel wrote. “McKinnie’s insertion into the starting lineup in last year’s playoffs was a big catalyst for the Super Bowl run, but at 34, he is just not a guy you can count on week in and week out at one of the game’s most important positions.”

There is a chance that McKinnie is kept on the team but headed to the bench. He would provide valuable depth at the position, and financially speaking, Wilson says there’s no reason let McKinnie go.

“There's really no upside to cutting McKinnie since his $1 million base salary is already guaranteed for the season as a vested veteran and he was paid a $2 million signing bonus in May and a $200,000 reporting bonus as part of a two-year, $6.3 million deal,” Wilson wrote. “The Ravens will need to make a roster move to create a spot for Monroe, but expect it to be from a player low on the depth chart that's not in the team's plans.”

Meanwhile, the Ravens will have to pay Monroe $2.9 million for the remainder of the season.

McKinnie told Wilson he is still waiting to hear from the team about the immediate impact it will have on him.

Trade Serves Notice To Rest Of Offensive Line

The entire offensive line has struggled at some point during the first four games, not just McKinnie.

You don’t average 2.6 yards per carry because of one player. All 12 hits on Flacco Sunday were not allowed by only McKinnie.

And therein lies another positive aspect to this trade.

“This is where the trade for Monroe serves an additional purpose,” Hensley wrote. “By making such an unexpected – and unprecedented – move, the Ravens are putting everyone along that offensive line on notice.

“It can be the same type of shocking wake-up call from last season, when coach John Harbaugh fired Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron in December.”

Agent Thinks Rolando McClain Could Make Comeback

Linebacker Rolando McClain abruptly retired from the NFL this offseason – just days after the Ravens signed him for what looked to be a great second-chance destination.

Agent Pat Dye, Jr. thinks that McClain, only 24 years old, will eventually want to return to the NFL. Dye hopes the Ravens will still have a spot for him in the future.

“I admire the kid for coming back to Tuscaloosa, going to class and trying to get everything in his life outside of football situated,” Dye told Jon Solomon of AL.com. “It’s not my decision to come back or not come back. I think ultimately he wants to play again. He’s only 24 years old. He’s talented. It’s just a shame. It was such a great situation there in Baltimore.

“It will be interesting to see what happens because the guy they signed to basically replace [McClain], Daryl Smith, is playing really well. I think there are other inside backers who are relatively unproven guys. I think Ozzie has very fond feelings for the kid and wants to see him be successful.”

Ravens Miss Pitta More Than Boldin

Four weeks into the NFL season, and the Ravens miss tight end Dennis Pitta more than receiver Anquan Boldin, says Hensley.

That’s partly because the Ravens have been able to get some production out of the receiving corps, whereas the tight ends have notched zero touchdowns and no receptions of more than 20 yards.

“Entering the season, the Ravens looked like they were in better position to handle the loss of Pitta more than the void left by the trade of Boldin,” Hensley wrote. “But undrafted wide receiver Marlon Brown, who has filled Boldin's spot in the starting lineup, leads the team with three touchdowns.

“The biggest disappointment for the Ravens is Dickson [four dropped passes]. … The Ravens are clearly losing patience with Dickson.” 

Quick Hits

  • @APMarkLong [AP Sports writer]: Just got off phone with Eugene Monroe. It's bittersweet deal for him. His wife's from Baltimore area and he's headed to a winner. [Twitter]
  • @RavensSalaryCap: Ravens need approx $1.326M in Cap space to fit Monroe under Cap. Some of that will come from OL he replaces.  Jah Reid is most, approx $400K [Twitter]
  • In response to Terrell Suggs’ claim that Roger Goodell had a hand in the Super Bowl blackout … @SI_PeterKing: I weep for logicin America.” [Twitter]
  • @jeffzrebiecsun: Safety Christian Thompson is officially released. Made no impact since being drafted in 4th round in 2012. [Twitter]
  • @mattvensel: [Thompson] made no impression whatsoever in camp. [Twitter]
  • @BaltimoreLuke: Thompson is the second recent fourth-round pick to be cut after Tandon Doss (2011) was waived at the end of August before being re-signed. [Twitter]
  • @gdowning14: Former Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe leads the Dolphins with 38 tackles this year. [Twitter]

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